Obesity: Health and Economic Consequences of an Impending Global Challenge

This report lays out why overweight and obesity is a “ticking time bomb” with huge potential negative economic and health impacts, especially for the poor and people who live in low- or middle-income countries, dispel-ling the myth that it is a problem only in high-income countries and urban areas. Overweight and obesity result from an imbalance between energy consumed (too much) and energy expended (too little). Globally, there has been a shift in food consumption patterns whereby people are consuming more energy-dense foods (those high in sugars and fats); at the same time, they are engaging in significantly reduced physical activity. Using the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) cutoffs, adults with a body mass index (BMI; this is weight/height squared) of 25 or more are classified as overweight; those with a BMI of 30 or more are classified as obese.

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